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Parents Facing Chronic Stress

By Jonathan Slack, Market Research & Development Specialist, AHSS

Studies have found that parents of children on the autism spectrum suffer highly elevated stress levels.  One study even found that the hormone levels of parents with children on the spectrum was similar to the hormone levels of combat soldiers.

The study also found that mothers of those with autism reportedly:

  • Spend at least 2 hours more each day caregiving than mothers of children without disabilities.
  • Were twice as likely to be tired and 3 times as likely to have experienced a stressful event on any given day.
  • Were interrupted at work 1 out of every 4 days compared to less than 1 in 10 days for other moms.

But, researchers note: “Programs to help manage behavioral problems can go a long way toward improving the situation for mothers and their kids alike.”

I know from my own personal experience with my sister that taking care of a loved one on the spectrum can be exhausting and stressful. It seemed like whenever I learned how to appropriately deal with a behavior my sister was exhibiting, she would move on to new, more problematic behaviors that I had no idea how to handle. The worst part about these situations was feeling helpless.

One of the reasons I started to work at AHSS was their devotion to training parents on how to appropriately handle the behaviors their autistic child is exhibiting. I know how much less stressful my life would have been with this type of training, and I am thankful that we can help lower the stress levels of the families we work with.


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